According to a PLA Daily report on Monday, the Chinese navy’s official newspaper, the train takes place in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, in southern China – the primary time Aman Youyi has been held in Chinese territory.
The newspaper stated the six international locations aimed to boost city and maritime anti-terrorism and anti-piracy capabilities, to additional deepen “mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation” amongst their militaries to collectively safeguard regional peace and stability and “strengthen multidimensional, multi-link three-dimensional anti-terrorism strike forces”.
The joint drill launched reconnaissance tools resembling transportable drones and wall-penetrating radar to anti-terrorism operations to “accurately obtain target information and guide precise strikes and destruction of various targets”, in response to the PLA Daily.
It quoted a Chinese employees officer concerned in planning the workout routines saying the workout routines and coaching helped Beijing perceive the coaching ideas and strategies of different international locations to assist the PLA enhance.
Collin Koh, a senior fellow on the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, stated the drills’ concentrate on “low hanging fruit”, resembling non-traditional maritime safety and counterterrorism, was chosen to keep away from delicate issues contemplating that Malaysia and Vietnam had been co-claimants within the South China Sea.
“For China, this exercise is one way for it to ‘play catch-up’ with much better established extra-regional actors which have maintained decades-old, deeper and broader … joint military activities with Southeast Asian countries, such as the US,” Koh stated.
“Aman Youyi is at best considered one of the nascent steps towards deepening Beijing’s defence diplomacy outreach.”
John Bradford, government director of the Yokosuka Council on Asia-Pacific Studies stated Southeast Asians understood that China was not going anyplace.
“It will remain their geoeconomic heavyweight neighbour. Thus, most of the states will continue to prefer cautious engagement over seeking to reconstruct a 21st-century bamboo curtain,” Bradford stated.
After beginning in 2014 as a bilateral navy drill between China and Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, the Aman Youyi train sequence was expanded in 2018 to a trilateral train after including Thailand.
Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam joined this 12 months after navy delegations from the six international locations agreed in May to additional broaden the drill.
Koh stated Vietnam’s participation – regardless of its South China Sea dispute with China – appeared extra symbolic, projecting its overseas coverage technique and balancing between the US and China with out looking for alignment or alliances.
“If Vietnam has in recent years grown closer to the US, India and Japan for example, it seems natural for it to try to balance that by responding favourably to China’s defence diplomacy outreach,” Koh stated.
Brian Hart, a fellow with the China Power Project at Washington-based assume tank the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, echoed the view and stated participating in these sorts of workout routines didn’t sign a significant strategic pivot in the direction of China however reasonably the pursuit of “a balancing act between Beijing and Washington”.
Benjamin Barton, an affiliate professor on the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia campus, stated Beijing’s technique of assertive and assuaging behaviour in Southeast Asia was mirrored within the joint train.
He stated it despatched a message that China’s intentions within the South China Sea had been “entwined with those of the Southeast Asian states themselves” and that China was a benign pressure within the area as a substitute of a “menace” to their sovereignty.
“This is to generate a degree of control, through a combination of suasion and coercion … over the attitudes of the countries in its southeastern periphery – a core strategic zone for current-day Chinese grand strategy,” Barton stated.
“In relation to Manila, this may also be a sign that it could easily find itself isolated as a claimant state within Asean if it chooses to persist with its recent strong-arm tactics targeting Chinese interests.”
Timothy Heath, a senior worldwide defence researcher on the Rand Corporation, stated whereas Beijing tried to deepen the dependence and compliance of Asean states, there remained limits to the China-Asean ties as Southeast Asian international locations didn’t want to change into depending on both aspect within the nice energy competitors.
“[Southeast Asian] countries do not want to become dependent ‘tributaries’ and so they will probably resist Chinese demands for greater integration and combat-oriented cooperation. Instead, they are likely to continue cultivating good relations with the US military,” he stated.
“The defence ties will likely remain mainly focused on non-war missions and limited cooperation for primarily political purposes of maintaining friendly ties.”